Fixed income families budgeting for higher summer energy bills - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Fixed income families budgeting for higher summer energy bills

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

As the temperatures climb, so do utility bills, especially in these hot, southern summer months. And for some, especially those on a fixed income and lower income families, paying those higher electricity bills can be overwhelming.

While there are some means of assistance for people who qualify, especially in the winter, the leader of one non-profit in Chatham County says summer cooling assistance and help with electric bills is lacking.

"Today, we have no money for summer cooling. And that's creating a tremendous problem on lower to moderate-income clientele that we serve," said John Finney, the executive director of the Economic Opportunity Authority for Savannah-Chatham County Area, Inc.

The EOA, a non-profit, helps three to four thousand people a year with their energy bills, but only in the winter. 

Finney said, "We've had a lot of people come in and we simply had to turn them down. And there's nothing worse for a social worker than to say I'm sorry, I can't help. Especially in a time of need."

With air conditioners working overtime this month with the hot temperatures, and little to no assistance from non-profits, families on fixed incomes sometimes have to make some tough choices.

Savannah resident Josie Williams said, "Being on a fixed income, you don't have no other choice you know, but to pay it. Budget your bills around, you got to have lights."

"Every senior that I know is on a fixed income. And fixed income is exactly what it says: fixed. You get no more, or no less per month. But when your bills are fluctuating, you got to figure out how you're going to pay it. And it's not easy," added Gloria McGowan. 

The Savannah EOA said the only way they're going to help those on a fixed income or with limited means beat the bills this summer, is through donations.

Finney said, "That's what we really need right now. If there are corporations or individuals of any tremendous means, we would certainly entertain some kind of donation so that we could help at least a couple thousand people. But it doesn't look very good right now."

Georgia Power is working with the Salvation Army to match donations made by power customers on bills, and that money goes to help cover bills for those in need. The donations from the bills stay in the counties where they are made. 

Georgia Power also offers free tools on their website to help you manage energy costs. Click here to find out more. 

To find out about Georgia Power's assistance programs click here, and here.

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